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2016 Year in Review of the GCD area and beyond

A look back at some of the best stories we followed in the year that wraps up at midnight Saturday

 

A fire truck is parked just above the west side of Coulee Dam during a "back burn" to protect the town during September's wildfires.

Here's a list of some of the major stories we've followed in 2016. Which ones were your favorites?

January 6

An overhead covering that had shaded rodeo fans for decades at the Ridge Riders Rodeo Grounds collapsed under a heavy snow load, leading the organization to make extensive repairs of its wooden grandstands, but which has not so far included a new covering.

January 13

Electric City calls a meeting on a trail that would reach from Sunbanks Lake Resort entrance to Grand Coulee and beyond. The controversial plan would go on to make headlines throughout the year.

January 20

Recreational marijuana store B-Street Bud opens on Burdin Boulevard following a lengthy application process.

The Colville Tribes announce plans to build a restaurant, lounge, and gaming area over the Coulee Dam Casino. The restaurant is currently set to open in spring, 2017.

February 3

Don Richer bowls a perfect 300 game at Riverview Lanes.

A total of 52 pronghorn antelope are helicoptered onto the Colville Indian Reservation after the tribe made it a priority to bring the animal back to the area after decades without.

February 10

An after-school program at Lake Roosevelt Schools, The Cultural Enrichment Early Out Monday program, wins a multi-state award as director Kim Stanger is in Washington D.C. to encourage more funding from Congress.

Lake Roosevelt Elementary Vice Principal Nate Piturachsatit, 37, is arrested at the school for inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl from Wisconsin over Instagram, a social media app used to send photos and videos.

February 24

The bowling alley is broken into a third time, and a house is burglarized a third time, in what will be a bad year for local crimes, including gas siphoning at the school bus garage as well as thefts from local homes. A community watch organization is in the works.

March 2

Glo Carroll is selected as The Star newspaper's Volunteer of the Year for 2015 for recruiting the help of locals and residents throughout the state to help the firefighters fighting the huge North Star fire that ravaged Washington that year, with food and supplies.

Former Vice Principal Paul Turner signs a three-year contract to become the new superintendent for the Grand Coulee Dam School District.

The Colville Tribes will gain $13.3 million from an agreement that settles the claims of nearly 700 tribes nationwide against the federal government for underfunded federal contract work.

March 16

The Grand Coulee Dam Yacht Club tears out its old docks at Eden Harbor to make room for used docks purchased in Idaho.

April 13

NBA hall-of-famer Gary Payton comes to the area to host a basketball workshop entitled "Rise Above." About 200 boys and girls of all ages attended, performing basketball drills, playing games, and listening to Payton speak.

April 27

Hundreds attend the seventh annual Earth Day Celebration in Nespelem at the powwow grounds. The event was organized by the Earth Day Committee, which consists of Joaquin Bustamante, Kathy Moses, Shelly Clark, Shelly Jackson, Crystal Marchand, and Justus Caudell.

May 11

A huge project is proposed to build a pump-generating plant near Crescent Bay with 30-foot-diameter pipes connecting Banks Lake from North Dam to Lake Roosevelt to generate hydro-electricity. The project could cost as much as a billion dollars and bring in 2,500 jobs, with a completion date of 2025.

Colorama replaces its traditional carnival with large inflatable Fun Zone slide and jump attractions, which is a big success with children.

June 1

Edward Kerns of Odessa, Washington, a former dam laborer who started work on the Grand Coulee Dam project in 1935, visits the dam for his 100th birthday. Kerns would pass away later in the year.

June 8

Some 37 students graduate from Lake Roosevelt High School. The class is honored for numerous academic and athletic achievements, including 2,863 hours of volunteer community service. As a group, the class garnered scholarship offers totaling $215,411.

June 15

The Colville Tribes launch a dugout canoe from the Spring Canyon boat launch on a mission to revive an old tradition in support of exploring a new possibility: bringing salmon back to the upper Columbia River. The cedar canoe and its crew headed to a rendezvous at Kettle Falls, where tribes from across the Northwest once gathered annually to harvest salmon before Grand Coulee Dam was built.

June 29

Jim Boyd, leader of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and renowned musician and recording artist, dies unexpectedly at the age of 60.

July 6

About 2,000 fireworks rockets are launched off the dam for the Fourth of July. Crowds enjoyed the Independence Day festival put on by the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, despite a treefall in Coulee Dam that shut down power to the laser light show. The crowd cheered with approval through the nearly 20-minute fireworks spectacle, especially when the biggest explosions lit the sky.

July 13

The school board approves a girls' soccer program at Lake Roosevelt High School, the first in the area.

August 10

A survey conducted by the chamber of commerce about consolidation of the towns in the community receives a strong response in support of the idea, with 76 percent of respondents either strongly in favor or somewhat in favor, although those against are passionate about their views.

August 17

Care Net, an organization dedicated to "serving people facing unplanned pregnancy and related sexual issues," opens an office in Grand Coulee.

September 14

Two wildfires on either side of the river threaten the towns of Elmer City, Coulee Dam, and Grand Coulee.

September 21

Coulee Medical Center holds their first Gathering of Wellness Powwow in Grand Coulee. Dancers from all over the Colville Reservation and beyond attended, plus participants from a Salish language school in Spokane, whose first- through fifth-graders played the "host drum." The effort is part of a larger realization at the hospital of the need to offer some spiritual help for its medical patients at times when it's most needed.

October 5

Local woman Jaci Gross, or Miss G as she is known by students at Lake Roosevelt Schools, recounts a 500-mile trek during the summer on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail across Spain.

October 12

Coulee Medical Center Guild's "Color Me Pink and Purple Fun Run" for breast cancer awareness is held, in which 91 people participate.

October 19

A 69-year-old man spends over 10 hours shivering in Banks Lake after his boat capsized before being rescued by police, who responded to a tip from an Electric City man.

October 26

A homeless veteran receives help from members of the community. Clarence Jared, 84, is later relocated to an assisted living home in Omak.

November 9

The Lake Roosevelt Raiders football team defeats the DeSales Irish in an incredible comeback victory to move on to the first round of state playoffs. The victory in Coulee Dam marks the first time the Raiders have gone on to state since 2001.

Big inflatable toys, including these bubbles, were a big hit at the 60th annual Colorama Festival.

About 14 law enforcement and emergency response agencies from around the region descend on Coulee Medical Center for a regional-first, "active shooter," in-hospital drill.

December 7

About 45 people turned out to discuss a rash of burglaries and car prowls that have occurred in the region and form a community watch.

Tribal veterans join thousands at an oil pipeline protest and victory in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

December 14

Local cowboy champ Shane Proctor sets another record, this time as 2016 Wrangler National Finals rodeo "average champion" after 10 days of competition in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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